Sengekontacket dredge project starts, avoids stop

The Edgartown dredge crew began hauling sand out of Sengekontacket Pond last week, beginning a long-delayed project on the Oak Bluffs side of the popular salt pond. The first 17,000 cubic yards of sand will go to nourish public beaches along the town’s waterfront.

Oak Bluffs contracted with Edgartown for the dredge work under an inter-municipal agreement. The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 million. Oak Bluffs voters have authorized only $500,000. Town officials will finance the rest by selling as much as 40,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the pond to the Cow Bay Homeowners Association, for nourishment of the private Cow Bay beach.

Oak Bluffs averted a hitch in the permit process that might have stopped the dredging this week. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) briefly delayed permission to spread sand below the high water mark in Cow Bay, while state officials considered a critical comment letter from Island resident Lynn Fraker. Ms. Fraker has done dredge permitting work for both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, but no longer works for either town.

At the urging of Oak Bluffs town administrator Michael Dutton, Ms. Fraker withdrew her letter

“Sometimes the best of intentions have unintended consequences,” Ms. Fraker said in her e-mail to state permitting authorities.

DEP issued the permit on Monday.

A delay in that permit could have disrupted the tight schedule of dredging and trucking the sand. The Sengekontacket dredge permit requires dredging to be finished by January 15.